[ocr errors]

tering the chamber with his sword drawn, he immediately discharged a blow upon my head, saying, “Priest, give me thy money.” The stroke stunned me; the blood gushed out in abundance, and frightened my wife and servant to that degree that they both continued motionless. The barbarian turned round to my wife, aimed a blow at her, but it glanced fortunately on her gown, which happened to be lined with furs, and wounded her not. Amazed to see us so submissive and patient, he looked at us fixedly for some moments. I laid hold of this interval to represent to him that I was not in my own house, being come to the place where I was to discharge my duty to a dying person, but if he would grant us quarter, and protect us to our home, I would then bestow upon him all I had. Agreed, priest,” said he, "give me thy wealth, and I will give thee the watch-word : it is Jesu Maria ; pronounce that, and no one will hurt thee.” We went down stairs directly, highly contented to have found such a protector. The street was covered with the dead and dying; their cries were enough to have pierced the hearts of the greatest barbarians. We walked over the bodies, and when we arrived at the church of St. Catherine, met an officer of distinction on horseback. This generous person soon discovered us, and seeing me covered with blood, said to the person who conducted us, “ Fellow-soldier, fellow-soldier, take care what you these persons.” At the same time he said to my wife, “ Madam, is yonder house yours?" My wife having answered that it was, “Well,” added he, “ take hold of my stirrup, conduct me thither, and you shall have quarter.” Then turning to me, and making a sign to the soldiers with his hand, he said to me, “ Gentlemen of Magdeburg, you yourselves are the occasion of this destruction : you might have acted otherwise." The soldier who had used me ill, took this opportunity to

Upon entering my house, we found it filled with a multitude of plunderers, whom the officer, who was a colonel, ordered away. He then said he would take up his lodging with us, and having posted two soldiers for a guard to us, left us with a promise to return forthwith. We gave, with great cheerfulness, a good breakfast to our sentinels, who complimented us on the lucky fortune of falling into their colonel's hands; at the same time representing to us that their fellowsoldiers made a considerable booty while they continued inactive merely as a safe-guard to us, and therefore beseeching us to render them an equivalent to a certain degree. Upon this I gave them four rose

do to

[ocr errors]

steal away.

nobles, with which they were well contented, and showed so much humanity as to make us an offer to go and search for any acquaintance whom we desired to place in safety with us. I told them I had one particular friend who had escaped to the cathedral, as I conjectured, and promised them a good gratuity on his part if they saved his life. One of them accompanied by my maid-servant went to the church, and called my friend often by name; but it was all in vain, no one answered, and we never heard mention of him from that period.

Some moments after our colonel returned, and asked if any person had offered us the least incivility. After we had disculpated the soldiers in this respect, he hastened abroad to see if there was any possibility to extinguish the fire, which had already seized great part of the city: he had hardly got into the street, when he returned, with uncommon hastiness, and said, “Show me the way out of the town, for I see plainly we shall perish in the flames if we stay here a few minutes longer." Upon this we threw the best of our goods and movables into a vaulted cellar, covered the trap-door with earth, and made our escape. My wife took nothing with her but my robe; my maid seized a neighbour's infant child by the hand, whom we found crying at his father's door, and led him away.

We found it impossible to pass through the gates of the town, which were all in a flame, and the streets burnt with great fury on either side: in a word, the heat was so intense that it was with difficulty we were able to breathe. Having made several unsuccessful attempts, we determined at last to make our escape on the side of the town next the Elbe. The streets were clogged with dead bodies, and the groans of the dying were insupportable. The Walloons and Croatians attacked us every moment, but our generous colonel protected us from their fury. When we gained the bastion, which stands on the bank of the Elbe, we descended it by the scaling-ladders which the Imperialists had made use of in the assault, and arrived at length in the enemy's camp near Rottensee, thoroughly fatigued and extremely alarmed.

The colonel made us enter his tent, and presented us some refreshments. That ceremony being over, “Well,” said he, “ having saved your lives, what return do you make me?" We told him that for the present we had nothing to bestow, but that we would transfer to him all the money and plate that we had buried in the cellar, which was the whole of our worldly possessions. At this instant many Imperial officers came in, and one chanced to say to me, “ Ego tibi condoleo, ego sum addictus Fidei Augustanæ.” The distressed state I found myself in made me unable to give a proper reply to the condolences of a man who carried arms against those whose religion he professed, and whose hard fortune he pretended to deplore. Next day the colonel sent one of his domestics with my

maid-servo ant to search for the treasure we had buried in the cellar, but they returned without success, because as the fire still continued they could not approach the trap-door. In the meanwhile the colonel made us his guests at his own table, and during our whole stay treated us not as prisoners, but as intimate friends.

One day at dinner an officer of the company happened to say, that our sins were the cause of all the evil we suffered, and that God had made use of the Catholic army to chastise us; to whom my wife replied, that the observation perhaps was but too true; however, take care, continued she, lest God in the end should throw that very scourge into the flames. This sort of prophecy was fulfilled soon afterwards on the selfsame Imperial army, which was almost totally destroyed at the battle of Leipzic.

At length I ventured one day to ask our colonel to give us leave to depart: he complied immediately, on condition that we paid our

Next morning I sent my maid into the town to try if there was any possibility of penetrating into the cellar ; she was more fortunate that day, and returned with all our wealth. Having returned our thanks to our deliverer, he immediately ordered a passport to be prepared for us, with permission to retire to whatever place we should think proper, and made us a present of a crown to defray the expense of our journey. This brave Spaniard was colonel of the regiment of Savelli, and named Don Joseph de Ainsa.



COURIER. [Paul Louis COURIER, who was born in 1774, served in the French army in Italy, in 1798-9. He was a scholar, and a man of taste; and his letters are full of indignation at the rapacity of the French conquerors. After the peace of Amiens he published several translations from the Greek. On the renewal of the war he served again in Italy ; and held the rank of a chief of squadron in the Austrian campaign of 1809. He gave in his resignation in 1809, for his independent spirit made him obnoxious to the creatures of Napoleon. His literary reputation is chiefly built upon the political tracts which he wrote after the restoration of the Bourbons, which, in their caustic humour, are almost unequalled, and have been compared with the celebrated Lettres Provençales’ of Pascal. The little piece which we translate gives no notion of his peculiar powers, but it is well adapted for an extract. The story is contained in a letter to his cousin, Madame Pigalle.]

I was once travelling in Calabria; a land of wicked people, who, I believe, hate every one, and particularly the French; the reason why, would take long to tell you, suffice it to say that they mortally hate us, and that one gets on very badly when one falls into their hands. I had for a companion a young man with a face—my faith, like the gentleman that we saw at Kincy; you remember? and better still perhaps,—I don't say so to interest you, but because it is a fact. In these mountains the roads are precipices; our horses got on with much difficulty; my companion went first; a path which appeared to him shorter and more practicable led us astray. It was my fault. Ought I to have trusted to a head only twenty years old? Whilst daylight lasted we tried to find our way through the wood, but the more we tried, the more bewildered we became, and it was pitch dark when we arrived at a very black looking house. We entered, not without fear, but what could we do? We found a whole family of colliers at table; they immediately invited us to join them; my young man did not wait to be pressed: there we were eating and drinking; he at least, for I was examining the place and the appearance of our hosts. Our hosts had quite the look of colliers, but the house you would have taken for an arsenal; there was nothing but guns, pistols, swords, knives and cutlasses. Everything displeased me, and I saw very well that I displeased them. My companion, on the contrary, was quite one of the family, he laughed and talked with them, and with an imprudence that I ought to have foreseen, (but to what purpose, if it was decreed,) he told at once where we came from, where we were going, and that we were Frenchmen. Just imagine! amongst our most mortal enemies, alone, out of our road, so far from all human succour! and then, to omit nothing that might ruin us, he played the rich man, promised to give


the next morning, as a remuneration to these people, and to our guides, whatever they wished. Then he spoke of his portmanteau, begging them to take care of it, and to put it at the head of his bed; he did not wish, he said, for any other pillow. Oh, youth, youth! you are to be pitied! Cousin, one would have thought we carried the crown diamonds. What caused him so much solicitude about this portmanteau was his mistress's letters. Supper over, they left us. Our hosts slept below, we in the upper room, where we had supped. A loft raised some seven or eight feet, which was reached by a ladder, was the resting place that awaited us; a sort of nest, into which we were to introduce our. selves by creeping under joists loaded with provisions for the year. My companion climbed up alone, and already nearly asleep, laid himself down with his head upon the precious portmanteau. Having determined to sit up, I made a good fire, and seated myself by the side of it. The night, which had been undisturbed, was nearly over, and I began to reassure myself; when, about the time that I thought the break of day could not be very far off, I heard our host and his wife talking and disputing below; and putting my ear to the chimney which communicated with the one in the lower room, I perfectly distinguished these words spoken by the husband: “Well, let us see, must they both be killed ?” To which the wife replied, Yes;” and I heard no more. How shall I go on? I stood scarcely breathing, my body cold as marble; to have seen me, you could hardly have known if I were alive or dead. Good Heavens! when I think of it now!- We two almost without weapons, against twelve or fifteen who had so many! and my companion dead with sleep and fatigue! To call him, or make a noise, I dared not; to escape alone was impossible; the window was not high. but below were two large dogs howling like wolves. In what an agony I was, imagine if you can. At the end of a long quarter of an hour, I heard some one on the stairs, and, through the crack of the door, I saw the father, his lamp in one hand, and in the other one of his large knives. He came up, his wife after him, I was behind the door; he opened it, but before he came in he put down the lamp which his wife took. He then entered, barefoot, and from outside the woman said to him, in a low voice, shading the light of the lamp with her hand, • Softly, go softly." When he got to the ladder, he mounted it, his knife between his teeth, and getting up as high as the bed—the poor young man lying with his throat bare—with one hand he took his

[ocr errors]
« VorigeDoorgaan »